At her first awards show in two years, Taylor Swift didn’t disappoint on any front at the Billboard Music Awards 2018 in Las Vegas.
Her surprise appearance was the first bonus, given she’s been notably reclusive. The last time she graced a red carpet was at May 2016’s BMI Pop Awards.
Second, the Grammy winner abandoned gimmick-dressing and went slinky in a glamorous old Hollywood Versace dress with thigh-high split and embellished silver details and retro-style Casadei heels.
Third, she served up what was called “some serious sass” watching Kelly Clarkson’s opening medley of nominees’ songs.
When The Voice judge Clarkson sang Swift’s hit Look What You Made Me Do, Taylor, 28, didn’t hold back on her reaction.
Sitting between her friends Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello, she was caught on camera rolling her eyes, checking out her manicure and casually singing along before starting to laugh.
— Billboard Music Awards (@BBMAs) May 21, 2018
The social media reaction was, well, swift:
@taylorswift13 ATTITUDE DURING LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO IS EVERYTHING 😍❤️😒🤣
— So it goes… (@alltoowell68) May 21, 2018
THE WAY SHE JUST LOOKED AT HER NAILS SO FLIPPANTLY IM JUST @taylorswift13 ARE U TRYING TO KILL ME SWEETIE IM ON THE FLOOR CACKLING AHAHAHA
— jenna🐍 (@jennafaithm13) May 21, 2018
Swift backed up her attitude with two wins from five nominations, losing out in the top artist category to Ed Sheeran, but taking home top female artist and top-selling album categories.
Accepting the top female gong, she gave a shout out to girl power, thanking “all the female artists who paved the way for us to get to do what we do the way we get to do it”.
She added: “All the new female artists who are killing it out there right now, we’re so inspired by you.”
Swift may have thrown shade and drawn the spotlight, but she wasn’t the only talking point. The other major one was the weirdly restrained fashion choices on a night when most stars usually showcase individual choices and fabulous bad taste.
The biggest trend? It was almost like someone sent a memo saying not wearing a thigh high split is illegal in Nevada. Wait – maybe it is.
Jennifer Lopez was one who rocked the boat. While getting rid of her long hair was a winner, JLo looked like she’d skinned a velour and pleather couch en route – and was unhappy with the results.
Demi Lovato, all animal print, plunging neckline and endless split, was just on the right side of glamorous rather than tacky.
The shoulders were whack in a good way – a girl has to stand out somehow – and the overall effect for singer Bebe Rexha was demure: high neck, floor length, nude lip, semi-protective hands.
Taylor went for a look that said lady meets showgirl. Winner.
For a music industry shindig, Hailey Baldwin was all class. A little clichéd, but her golden Grecian gown did the job perfectly.
Kelly Clarkson’s look was busy with the strappy bejewelled sandals, mandatory split, belt and sculptural shoulders, but maybe this is what grown-up singers look like.
Tyra Banks overdid the scary cat’s eye makeup and the dress had the homemade panache of a Year 11 sewing class project, but it somehow still avoided being truly horrible.
Dua Lipa was just rock ‘n’ roll enough without being a figure of fun: great colour, mullet skirt in requisite shiny fabric, statement necklace that could take out someone’s eye. Tick.
In an example of weird alchemy, even fashioning see-through bandages into a sort of dress didn’t make Ciara a beacon of bad taste.
Jenna Dewan was more classically rock than most, loading up on studs, black leather, heels and a strapless gladiator mini.
Mila Kunis (with cool fringe) also went leggy but her shoes said well-dressed office worker and her dress said party.
Then there was the duo who decided to totally push out the boat and go full-on, signature-music-awards awful.
Kesha went country in a Morticia Addams way – hair, hat, fugly boots – after stealing a shawl someone had draped over their front-room lamp to make things feel cosy.
This is something else. Perennial envelope-pusher Z La La paid homage to Coneheads, Marge Simpson and Medusa with a dress that looked like a gilded bowl of spaghetti. Bravo!
The actual winners on the night included:
Top New Artist: Khalid
Top Male Artist: Ed Sheeran
Top Duo/Group: Imagine Dragons
Top Billboard 200 Artist: Drake
Top Hot 100 Artist: Ed Sheeran